Lions benefitting from foundation LB Travis Lewis got at Oklahoma

Posted Aug 4, 2012

Lions rookie linebacker Travis Lewis played a lot of college football at Oklahoma. He led the Sooners in tackles in each of his four years as a starter there and he finished with 54 starts – every game he played in college.

Through the first week of Lions training camp, you can see that him having made all those starts and all those defensive calls is translating to this level. Lions coaches have been amazed at how well Lewis has picked up the scheme and how he’s been able to just go out there and play football without his head getting in the way.

“I don’t want to jinx him but he has really been outstanding,” Schwartz said of Lewis. “No. 1 physically but No. 2 just his picking up the scheme. It’s one thing to know what to do but it’s another thing being able to do it when the offense is coming out quick and motioning and coming out quick and doing all those different things.

“He’s never once had any kind of problem. He’s adjusted very, very quickly to a pretty complex scheme. It says a lot about him and a lot about his coaches and his experience at Oklahoma.”

Lewis gives credit to one coach in particular, former Oklahoma and current Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

“I give all the praise to (Venables) because he put so much stuff on me in college,” Lewis said.

“The stuff they had us doing in college was way more sophisticated. Out here (with Lions) you have a call and you make a call. The defensive line makes their call and the secondary makes their call. “But in college you made everyone’s call. So what he put on me allows me to pick up this so much faster and go out there and play.“

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham says he’s never had a rookie linebacker who’s been able to come in and pick up the scheme quite like Lewis.

“Travis Lewis, I can’t get over him,” Cunningham said. “He is probably, other than (Tulloch), the top two middle backers calling defenses. That’s a mouthful and people don’t believe it’d come out of him. He handles things like I’ve never seen a kid handle.”

Most coaches will tell you that linebacker is probably the hardest position for a rookie to pick up outside of quarterback, but so far in training camp Lewis is making it look easy and it's allowed coaches to move him around and play all three positions.

“It translates hugely,” Lewis said of his time at Oklahoma allowing him to pick up the NFL game so quickly. “There is not a huge gap at all translating to this level, picking up a system and switching our terminology with theirs and just going out there and playing football. Being a four-year starter has definitely helped me a lot in the film room and out there on the field and it makes everything a lot smoother.”

The fact that Lewis has veteran players like Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant to learn from hasn’t hurt either.

“It’s not as much going and asking them stuff as just looking at how they approach the game,” Lewis said of the veterans in the group.

“Looking how Tulloch approaches film. How he sees it and the questions he asks? It’s not so much asking them and picking their brain as much – just sit back and watch them do it.

“I feel like I’ve developed great habits along the way through my coaches in college, so I don’t think I’m far off on how to prepare and watch tape. But that being said, always be able to open your mind to the guys that have done it right and played this game at such a high level. You always want to be in their back pocket and learn from them.”